by Larry Powell
It has been exactly two weeks since I contacted Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Manitoba's main farm lobby group, to comment on my story, "New Studies Show Farm Chemicals Are Affecting More Than Bees. Bird Populations are Declining, Too. Is modern agriculture's toxic hold on nature becoming a death grip?"
(It appeared both on this blog on July 30th and subsequently in the Virden Empire Advance weekly. A number of other publications declined to publish.)
I reported on new research showing that insecticides, widely used on crops in this province and elsewhere, were associated with declines in populations of birds which eat insects. The chemicals, members of the "neonicotinoid" family, are the same ones which have, for some time, also been linked to large and significant declines in populations of pollinators, especially honeybees.
Purple Martins. Among the "insectivorious"
birds on the decline. Larry Powell - PinP photo.
The vast majority of conventional farmers, many of whom are believed to belong to KAP, sow seeds treated with "neonics," described as the most widely-used insecticide in the world.
My e-mail asked whether KAP, which describes itself as "Manitoba's general farm policy organization," feels any sense of responsibility for what seem to be escalating problems with the toxicity of the products in question.
I addressed my request to no less than six officials of the farm organization.
Not one has responded!
I made the same request of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), which claims to be "a voice for 200,000 farm families at the national level."
Like KAP, CFA did not respond, either!
What are Canadians to make of this; That the producers they represent do not care about the environment?
I find this hard to believe. I've known many farmers over the years who claim to take their role as "stewards of the land" very seriously, indeed.
So, are these organizations not doing justice to their members?
Until they come clean and begin publicly confronting pressing issues such as this, head-on, I guess we'll all just have to keep wondering...